No decision in haste but will increase options by looking outside Pakistan April 10, 2007

PCB not ruling out foreigner as next coach

Former Pakistan fast bowler and Under-19 coach Aaqib Javed is Imran Khan and Nasim Ashraf's preferred choice for national coach © Getty Images

A fortnight after the Pakistan Cricket Board publicly said it was highly likely that the next national coach would be a local, Cricinfo has learnt that a decision has been reached in principle to not exclude foreign names from a shortlist of four or five potential candidates.

Officially, Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the board, reiterated today his earlier statement that the PCB would not take any hasty decisions over the appointment of a captain, coach and selection committee. He was speaking after the latest meeting of the PCB's ad-hoc committee at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.

"We don't want to take any decisions in haste," Ashraf told reporters after the meeting. "We have discussed many issues, including the captaincy, a new coach and the selection committee but no decision has been taken just yet."

However, it emerged that the biggest surprise from the four-hour meeting was the discussions over a new coach. Ashraf, in his press conference a fortnight ago, had said it was highly likely that the next coach would be a local but the board now seems to appreciate the fact that it may have to widen its search.

Aaqib Javed and Mansoor Rana, who have both coached Pakistan U-19 teams to World Cup glory, were discussed as choices; Aaqib, who has expressed his interest in the job and has the support of Imran Khan, is also the preferred choice of the chairman.

Beyond that, as one official pointed out, the choice is scarce and "the parameter of the search has to be broadened. In principle we have taken a decision to look at a cross-section of 4-5 names which will not preclude foreigners."

At a similar meeting before the World Cup and Woolmer's death, the committee had also decided to look for a foreign coach and John Wright, the former India coach, was among the names mentioned. Board officials communicated with him during the Champions Trophy in India last year, though nothing concrete has emerged from it.

Several names were also discussed with regard to the captaincy. Younis Khan, as expected, remains the front-runner - though, as some officials now privately concede, he himself remains reluctant to take over. "There is also a concern," said an official, "that he has too excitable a temperament as a leader."

Ashraf's choice for captain is Younis Khan who, though as some officials privately concede, may be reluctant to take over © AFP

Younis, who is due to leave for England shortly to begin his stint with Yorkshire, is, however, understood to be the chairman's choice. Shoaib Malik, tipped regularly by Bob Woolmer as a future captain, is also said to be in the running, while the names of Salman Butt - currently out of national favour - and even Abdul Razzaq also came up alongside that of Mohammad Yousuf.

Ashraf also said that the identity of the new selection committee would be unveiled before the next ad-hoc committee meeting on May 7. Pakistan's next selectors will be the first, fully-paid professionals in the country's history and, though three names have been identified, they will not be announced immediately.

Among the favourites for the post of chief selector is Salahuddin Mulla Ahmed, former Test opener and many-time national selector. But Aamir Sohail, one-time radical, fire-breathing chief selector, has also been discussed alongside former internationals such as Shoaib Mohammad, Saleem Jaffar and Naushad Ali.

No other decision is expected till the next meeting. "The spadework begins now," one official pointed out. Pakistan's next international assignment is also likely to be in May, a potential series of ODIs against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. Thereafter, a charity game or two apart and a Twenty20 knockabout in September, they have ample time till South Africa arrive in October for a major tour to take the big decisions.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo